Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heating season report

The temperatures around here have been souring, although today it is back to normal, with low temperatures, and the threat of a storm approaching, but I consider the heating season officially closed!
So here is a final report of this season - 2010/2011.
Last year we started pretty early with the heating, in August, due to the birth of our little daughter, and the fact that the end of August was pretty cold already, at the end, with the last days averaging less than 15 degrees.
After that, the boiler didn't stop working, during a pretty long and cold winter, with snow for about a month, and an average December temperature of -1.1C, when it is normally 4.0C.
Last year we got a new boiler installed, a new condensing boiler, so I was very curious to be able to compare the performance of this boiler to the previous old one with pilot light. Since that one spend about 0.7m3 a day just on the pilot light, I guess I would have about 21m3 a month less than usual, which, for the 7 months of heating translates to about 150m3 less, and about 90 euro of gas (about 60 cents per m3).
But, I could not do a proper comparison, since, with the arrival of the baby our habits changed a lot. First, the overall set point was raised by 1C, from 18C to 19C; second, my wife stayed at home for most of the winter on maternity leave, so the house was warmed the whole day instead of the usual night only; third, and similar to the previous, we spend most (if not all) days/nights at home, whereas before we were going out quite often for dinner, movies, parties...

With all these to take into account, I knew that it would not be easy to compare. But anyway, here are the values, and a small analysis (sorry for the bad formatting, but couldn't figure it out...):

month Spent Predicted temperature
August 38.01 59.553 16.8
September 65.75 121.541 13.6
October 150.74 217.062 10.4
November 309.34 413.124 5.8
December 523.18 837.144 -1.1
January 415.31 537.14015 3.5
February 350.72 475.666584 4.6
March 252.13 398.224854 6.1

I did not include April although for almost half of the month the heating was still on.

This leads to a grand total of 2105.18m3 spent, against a predicted (formula based on the first year of occupancy of the house) 3059.46m3. So we spent 69% of the predicted gas consumption.
The other years this value was around 55%, so there was a large increase in our consumption, although, the comfort levels were increased and the time the house was occupied also increased significantly. Maybe it would be a nice idea to make some statistics on this, since I have all the data available.
I cannot however conclude much about the improvement, since the usage conditions have changed so dramatically. I am nevertheless convinced that if I had kept the other boiler I would have spent more than the prediction.
So overall I am quite happy with the result. Next project is still to get a PID controller going based on opentherm (maybe starting with opentherm lite) to try to get the boiler to operate in its ideal range. Now it is still on/off control, which isn't the most efficient. I do try to run the boiler efficiently by limiting the temperature of the water to 55C whenever the outside temperature allows it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thermal camera

This past week I got a hold of a nice infrared camera! or thermal camera or however those things are called...

Due to unforeseen circumstances, however, I didn't have as much time to play with it, as I had foreseen, but nevertheless, I managed to take a few snapshots.
The weather has also been pretty warm (as warm as it get in Holland...) and so it was difficult to get the ideal conditions to identify heat leaks.

One of the main purposes that I was interested in it, is that we are about to change the windows, which are now steel frames - ideal cold bridges - to some high-tech aluminium profile with high performance double glass. So I wanted to snap some shots of the current windows before the new ones come in so that I can compare. I will anyway compare in the energy spending next winter. By the way, the next post will probably be the energy assessment for the past winter.

I'll get the camera again once the windows are in! and the cold sets in!

So, there is not much to say about these, but the images are nice! Here are some samples, outside the temperature was about 6C and inside 15C:

Fig. 1: The iron/steel frames, almost as cold as the outside

Fig. 2: The house outside. Upstairs we already have the nice aluminium windows, with the super glass

Fig. 3: The electricity meter - gets pretty warm in there. It would be interesting to compare it to an old fashioned one.

Fig. 4: The CNY70 doing the gas metering

Fig. 5: Heating pipes when starting to warm up, the inflow is pretty warm , as the return is still cold. That is the best case.

Fig. 6: Old cast iron radiator warming up.

Fig. 7: GU10 spots - This one is a kind of CFL

Fig. 8: GU10 spots - this one is a standard halogen.

Fig. 9: GU10 spots - this one is a 3.5W LED

Fig. 10: Just a funny picture of a plug with a switch that I use in the computer to have it completely off when not in use.